Large Rod Series: Circle/Rectangle, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 (1986) is a major piece by the late minimalist artist Walter De Maria. Part of a group of floor-based works, it is a wonderful example of De Maria’s spare, precise, geometric style.
De Maria was born in California but spent most of his career in New York. Perhaps best known for land art installations like The Lightning Field (1977), 400 stainless steel posts spread over an approximately square-mile grid, he was also a filmmaker and musician. He worked with composer John Cage and drummed in a New York band that included the Velvet Underground’s Lou Reed and John Cale. He died in 2013 in Los Angeles; he had a stroke after flying there to attend his mother’s 100th birthday. He was 77.
The sculpture was jointly procured by the DMA and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, marking the first time the two institutions have worked together. They also acquired De Maria’s Pure Polygon Series, seven works on paper created by the artist in 1975 and ’76. When the DMA displays the works this fall (the SFMOMA will follow in spring 2017), it will be the first museum exhibition of De Maria’s work in 30 years.
On the DMA side, the acquisition was spearheaded by Gavin Delahunty, the museum’s senior curator of contemporary art and the man responsible for last year’s impressive “Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots.” Delahunty has emerged as a force at the DMA as its contemporary collection strengthens.